Shelves. One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
Filled with lotions, potions, aloe, rose water, glycerin, beeswax and shea butter elixirs.
Hydrating, age-defying, moisturizing, intensifying, skin repairing, lubricating, healing, enriching, spot concealing butters, balms and essential oils.
I hold up my hand to the pictures on the jars, bottles and tubes.
A nice idea, but these hands of mine are an inheritance.
A gift from my mother, passed down from hers.
Freckled, speckled, ropey with age and an ever present reminder for those days when I need a dose of my mom, and her sweet face is out of reach, a distant blur.
I gaze down at my hands and I am standing next to her in the kitchen, up to our elbows in hot water and soapsuds, washing and rinsing, heads close together in comfortable conversation.
At eye level is a small strip of wood beneath the cabinets. It is covered with pages torn from books, magazines and newspapers. Words of wisdom. Little snippets of truth she wants me to remember. So, as we wash, rinse, repeat, I read and remember. Read and remember. To this day I can quote almost every one.
My mother had working hands.
Sprinkling water onto freshly laundered shirts, rolling them into simple tubes, until the iron was hot. Reaching into the laundry basket, a clothespin between her lips, flipping sheets and towels to dry in the sun. Beating sugar into butter until it frothed, then icing a cake with swift, smooth strokes. Toweling my wet hair almost dry, then slipping bobby pins into little X's and O's across my scalp for my, tomorrow is a school day, curls.
And most tenderly, on her knees, weeding and planting in a corner near the porch, her roses. Her lush pink roses, hardy climbers that would in summer, twine around the beams in spiral curlicues, their full-throated scent released into the air on a hot humid summer night as we sipped lemonade and watched the heat lightning scissor the night sky.
She and I would sit together. A jar of Pond's cream on a small table between. I would take one of her hands in mine and massage the cream into each of her fingers and the palms of her hands.
Women I have met since that time. Women with working hands. Healing hands. Hands put to good use. Hands that held me up and hands that held me steady. Hands that showed me how and hands that let me go.
Even now, I find that in times of stress, I am calmed when my hands are working. Cleaning, sorting, polishing, washing, rinsing.
But best...best of all...in the garden, soil beneath my fingernails, weeding, planting, digging, here I find peace. In this gentle caretaker's role, I narrate the story of the roses to myself as a reminder that these hands do good work.
Here in the garden, the scent of roses brushes my cheek, and for a moment, I lean in and feel a comforting presence. I glance down at my hands and my mother appears...
To all the remarkable women, who stand by the sink, up to their elbows in soapsuds, solving the big and little problems of the world by using their hands to do good work, this little rose was planted in your honor and for all the moms who showed us the way.
Beauty is not skin deep.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Today's Daily Affirmation:
A Magnetic Personality
Well, not people so much, but lately, lots of metal objects like nuts and bolts and screws, silverware and car keys. I also have a new obsession with my microwave. I find myself gazing at it with a longing that troubles me so, as though we share a common wavelength. Can read each other's thoughts. On my drive home, I find myself listening to a local radio talk station, via an old silver filling in one of my molars. Did I mention that I find the sight of a cell phone tower intensely irresistible?
I had one.
On my knee.
When I made the appointment, they asked me if I was claustrophobic. I didn't think so. Would I need a sedative? Whoa. I thought this was a simple procedure. Painless.
Oh dear. A giant tube. A noisy, oscillating, radiating, vibrating tube in the middle of an empty room. With me in it. Not moving. At all. Not a wiggle, a wobble, nor a squirm. Magnetic, but rapidly losing its original appeal.
Oh yes, and now come the helpful stories of those who have gone before. Rapid heartbeats. Pulsing clanging banging drumbeats. Entombed. No way out. The panic button. THE PANIC BUTTON? Okay, let's revisit the sedative synopsis. Nope. Too late. That was behind Door #3 and I took Door #1. Night sweats and monsters under the bed.
So here we are. Me and the technician. The technician and I. In a very big room with absolutely nothing in it. Four sterile white walls and a giant tube. I put my head on the pillow and watch as she wraps my sore knee in a smaller tube to fit inside the really BIG TUBE, and she says, "Try not to move". You know what happens when someone says that ......twitch...twitch...itch. My left knee jumps. I swear I told it not to move. I did. Headphones. Oh, swell. To distract me from all the banging and clanging. I smile. How nice. As if. I blink once and poof, she disappears. I glance left and right and realize it's just me and THE TUBE. Until...
A voice...in my head. "Don't move. We are starting now". I struggle to locate the WE. Above my head a small screen with numbers and codes squiggling by. For the first time I notice I am holding a rubber bulb in my hand. The PANIC BUTTON? The GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card...and I think I just missed the instructions. I thought it was a blood pressure cuff. I desperately want to squeeze it, just to see if anyone is listening, but I am in the DO NOT MOVE OR ELSE mindset, so...
Bang Bang Clang...vibratingly, oscillatingly, radiatingly
...sliding into THE TUBE...
And then. The strangest thing happens. I look up at the dark little screen, my hands folded across my chest, take a deep breath and I am in LIFT OFF POSITION. An astronaut, on Cape Canaveral, sealed in the command module, atop the Saturn rocket, oxygen misting from the external tanks, all systems GO. The gantry pulls away. Engines roar. Inside the module, I sit strapped in, swathed and secure, absorbing the vibrations. All I can see is a small window above my head. I am headed there. A soft smile on my face.
So this is what it's like.
A tap on my shoulder. The technician. We're done.
Back on Earth, the room is still white, the walls still bare and the tube is still HUGE. I am done. But as I move toward the door, grateful for my imagination's folly, I spy the next adventurer and I cringe. She is an eight or nine year old girl. A little girl. Her eyes are wide and she takes a step back.
I give her a smile, but I know in my heart that my story, my puny imagination will not be enough to chase the monsters out from under this bed. I only wish it were so.
I know I began my tale with some silliness, to lure you in, but this is serious business. Some people go through this procedure much more often than I, for more serious concerns, and some are very very young, or very very scared.
Maybe someone could make this an adventure.
Make this cavernous space a more welcoming place.
It is such a beautiful story of what can happen when the hearts and minds of creatives....engineers, inventors, technicians, patients, and caregivers are let loose to play with crayons and markers, paints and palettes, pens and ideas, toys and technology, wants and needs, dreams and imaginations, designs and passion. All it takes is that one "light bulb" moment and suddenly four white walls, and a giant tube become a pathway to the stars, a safari hunt or an elephant ride.
This is surely a moment of true radiance.
Radiance...the ability to shine one's own light into the lives of others.
Radiance...the luminous moment when our hands create good work we only once imagined or dared to dream.
Radiance...a soft, very personal moment of inner luminosity when our passion, dreams and good works touch the lives of others.
To the folks at GE who imagined, dared to dream and took the chance to change scary stories into amazing adventures for children and a flight of fancy for us older folks with weak knees.
To visit the GE Adventure Series...click here...
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Happy Valentine's Day or...
In Ten Words Or Less...
Love is in the details.
The size of the box of chocolates.
The number of roses in the bouquet.
The carats worth of diamonds.
The stars in the restaurant review.
The message in the skywriting.
The petals scattered across the room.
The post-it notes on the mirror.
The stretch of the limo.
The bow around the new car in the driveway.
The amount attached to the gift card.
The lines in the original hand written sonnet.
The lyrics on the mixed tape CD of "our" songs.
The proposal at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The midnight cruise on a yacht in the Caribbean.
No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No
Read the fine print.
Between the lines.
Let me make a proposal.
Let me see if I can find a way, this Valentine's Day, to tell you...give me a minute to gather my thoughts...
Okay here goes...
I am sitting here,
trying to think of a way to say I love you.
I want the words to be clever and precise to capture the true essence of my feelings.
I want to make it right.
You know, perfect.
How did we get here?
This me loving you, you loving me business.
This...me messing up...you forgive.
You disappearing, me coming to look for you.
Me pulling away, you pulling me close.
The day-to-day stuff.
The...you get on my nerves stuff.
I am here.
You are there.
I guess loving you,
means staying long enough
to cross the finish line together.
I love you.
You love me.
How to say I Love You in Ten Words or Less...